Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Dubai 2016: Week 7

After a very dull week the week before, it was business as usual this week.

Sunday was Valentine’s Day and after the gym that morning, I spent some of the afternoon working. I decided to treat myself to a 90-minute massage at Spa Zen in the late afternoon. It was just what I needed. That evening my dad took my mum and I out for dinner. I chose Taste of Italy by Heinz Beck at Galleria Mall – a friend of mine had been there recently and said the truffle pasta was to die for. Sold!

Everything on the menu looked good – and I came very close to having the red snapper but in the end the truffle pasta won. For starters I ordered the marinated salmon with sour cream, Dad had the seafood salad and Mum had the seabass carpaccio. Everything was excellent. For my main course I had the truffle pasta.

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Dad had the baked seabass and Mum wanted a side order of mashed potatoes (tut, honestly). I’m sure my pasta was about 1000 calories but I loved every bit of it. We shared a passion fruit crème brûlée for dessert.

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I would definitely go back there again.

My Monday was busy. I had a session with Pete in the morning, worked all afternoon and an Arabic class in the evening.

Apart from the gym on Tuesday I was at home, working in my pajamas.

I had another session with Pete on Wednesday. Before my Arabic class I had some errands to run at Mercato and when I left the mall at 5.30 it was pouring. In just the 15 seconds it took for me to get into the car, I got drenched. Luckily the rain had almost stopped by the time I got to the Trade Centre Tower, but there was a huge puddle at the bottom of the staircase and I ended up going halfway round the building via the carpark to get into the building. And by the time my class was over it had stopped altogether.

It was my last Arabic class of Intermediate 1 so we had an assessment. We were allowed to look up words in our books (thank God) and I managed to do the whole assessment written in Arabic. I was also the first to finish by almost 20 minutes so the teacher went through the paper with me once I’d finished. I was quite pleased with what I’d done, but my brain was totally fried after that!

I got home at 9pm and had a late dinner with my parents and some of their friends who had come over.

I went to yoga on Thursday morning and then met a friend for lunch at The Sum of Us. I had a green juice and the smoked salmon omelette with goats cheese. My friend had the veal schnitzel, and he said it was pretty good. We shared a slice of carrot cake for dessert and had some coffee.

After lunch I went to the Hummingbird Bakery at Citywalk to collect some mini cupcakes I’d ordered. It was about 2.30pm but Citywalk was packed – I didn’t think it would be so busy in the middle of a weekday afternoon. Once I got home, I got into my pajamas and worked for the rest of the day.

I’d been invited to a friend’s place for tea on Friday afternoon (hence the mini cupcakes) – it was just a small close crowd: me, her, her parents, a friend who was visiting with her 10-week-old baby and her mum, and a couple of other friends with their 1-year-old daughter. I was the first to arrive so my friend, her mum and I sat outside by the pool for a little while until the others arrived. It was a bit chilly for the baby outdoors so we moved inside. It was a lovely afternoon and I didn’t leave there until 7.30pm. My plan was to go home and change for a party at some friends’ place but in the end I just quickly stopped at home to freshen up and pick up a bottle of vodka and some chocolates.

It was such a fun evening – it was same group I’d been to China Grill with a few weeks ago so I knew it would be pretty boozy and at some point there would be loads of 80s music! I drank a lot of vodka – and I was making my own drinks which is never a good thing as I’m sure they get stronger and stronger as the night goes on. I got home at around 3am (I think).

I felt like hell on Saturday and had a really bad squink. A ‘squink’ is a word I coined to describe the feeling of being hungover with a stabbing pain in either or both eyes. Each time I blink it feels as if the Devil himself is stabbing my eyeball with his pitchfork, causing my eye to water uncontrollably and usually remain swollen for the rest of the day. And it’s usually my left eye (although I once had a double squink – which was pure torture). It’s not pretty. And it only started happening after I’d had my laser eye surgery in 2003. My siblings used to laugh at me in those days – and then it started happening to them too. That, my friends, is called Karma!

I was supposed to meet some friends at Purobeach at 11.30 but at 11.20 I was still in bed. I’d warned them the day before that there was a good chance I’d be hungover so they weren’t too surprised when I said I was going to be late. So, looking and feeling a bit like Shrek, I got ready and went over to the Conrad – I was there by 12.15 and kept my eyes fully covered with my sunglasses! It was still watering a little but not too badly. The four of us chatted for a while and then noticed a woman with long red hair (dyed) spilling out of her tiny bikini top. And then she stood up and bent over and we realised she was wearing a G-string. Oh. My. God. I would say she was perhaps a bit bigger than me – but she must have some serious body confidence to prance around wearing almost nothing! We were mesmerized – it was a bit like a car crash – we just couldn’t look away.

We had lunch at the Purobeach restaurant. We’ve all been trying to eat healthily this year and the three of them ordered salads. My hangover demanded that I have the hot dog and fries and a Coke. It was exactly what I needed. We went back to our sunbeds for a little while longer and then left at around 4pm.

I spent the rest of the day catching up with emails and some TV shows. I couldn’t focus on much else!

I love my life.

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Bali 2015: Days 10 to 14

I was up early on Sunday. I’d missed the swing yoga class but decided to go to the gym anyway. On my way back to my room I stopped in the restaurant, Kwee Zeen, for breakfast. I have to say I hate the name of the restaurant! I just wanted some eggs so I didn’t go for the whole buffet breakfast. I was seated next to some screaming children and the restaurant felt like a zoo. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. I had my book but couldn’t focus on it and left as soon as I’d eaten.

I went to the concierge to find out about renting a car and driver, but in the end decided to use the driver who had brought me to the Sofitel the day before. His rate was much more reasonable and he seemed like a decent guy.

I did a bit of work and then went to Nikki Beach, which is at the Sofitel itself. It was before noon when I got there so it was quite empty. I didn’t sit right inside the restaurant, but out on the beach.

I ordered some coconut water and started to read.

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And then it started to rain. Thankfully, it was just a light drizzle, nothing like the day before, so I stayed under my umbrella and continued reading. It cleared up pretty quickly but I could see the clouds heading over to Kuta and Seminyak. There was such a distinct line between the grey clouds and the blue sky!

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I had a massage that afternoon at 4pm – the hotel were offering 50% off massages between 1 and 4pm so I booked a 90-minute massage! I was feeling really lazy after that so I went back to my room and got into bed. I ordered room service that evening and passed out.

I was up early on Monday morning and went to the 7am floating/swing yoga class at the gym.

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I had a pretty busy day ahead of me, with two appointments – one in the morning and one in the afternoon, so I hired the car and driver for the day. Pak Wayan picked me up at 9.15am and I left for my 10.30 appointment near Seminyak. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to get there and I got there shortly after 10. The lady I was seeing was busy with her client to I told her I’d come back in a little while. The driver took me to get a fresh juice (I hadn’t had breakfast) and by the time we did that and braved the traffic again, I was on time.

The lady I was seeing was called Dafne and she works with flower essences to heal people. The leaders at the Bali Goddess Retreat highly recommended her and one of the girls had been to see her last week but was fully booked after that. Dafne was a lovely woman from Chile – I couldn’t tell how old she was, but she’s been in Bali for many years. So what does she do? We made small talk for a little while as she prepared her work space, organising boxes of flower essences, and then she closed her eyes and took out a crystal which was on a chain. She circled it over her head several times and then explained she was getting in touch with my spirit guides. She then told me to do whatever I wanted while she carried on (I had my book). She continued swinging the crystal over each box one at a time, pulling out various bottles of essences and putting them on one side. By the time she had finished, she had put aside nine bottles.

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She explained what each one represented and how they would help various aspects of my life. I hadn’t told her anything about me before she’d started but when she told me about all the things I was experiencing or needed, she was on the money. She then took out a little bottle with a dropper, filled half of it with vodka (I had been wondering why there was an open bottle of vodka on the table at 10.30am!) and then proceeded to put drops of each of the essences into the bottle. She told me that I was doing well on my journey as some people need as many as twenty to thirty different essences the first time they go see her, and I only needed nine. When she was done, she blessed the bottle and gave it to me. She told me to take a few drops right then, so I did. She told me to take four drops four times a day to start with and then see how I feel as time goes on.

After I left Dafne’s, I had a few hours to kill so I went to Seminyak Square, had an early lunch at Bali Bakery and then walked around for a while.

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I then went to Galleria Mall – I really didn’t know what else to do with myself for two hours. I looked at the bookshop and organised SIM cards for my parents and sister who would be arriving the next day. I then headed to my appointment with Jim in Umalas.

The other three girls on the yoga retreat had all been to Jim and they all said it should be compulsory to see him for anyone visiting the island. So I was curious to see what he was about. I got there on time (one hour in traffic!) and we talked for about 20 minutes – he told me what he did, that he pinpoints areas of pain/tension in the body and links them to emotional situations from the past and present. I knew this was going to hurt – physically and emotionally. I’d made a list beforehand of all the areas on my body that hurt – toes, soles of my feet, knees, left inner thigh, left shoulder, nosebleeds from my left nostril – because I was bound to forget something when he asked. We talked about a few things, some very personal, and then he told me to get undressed and lie on the massage table. I had no idea how much it would hurt when he pressed various pressure points and when he told me what each one was connected to emotionally, it all made sense. When he pressed my right ankle, I almost kicked him. My left hip – Jesus. He said our bodies are like hard drives – you think you’ve erased all the old files and emptied the wastepaper basket, but there’s still a trace of something left behind. He told me that because I was so sensitive to my environment I should protect my chakras when I’m around negative people/situations by putting my tongue on the roof of my mouth – this would close off my throat chakra and the others below it. I’m sure that will come in useful! When he was finished, I felt so much… lighter. And I felt happier than I’d felt in a long time. I asked him how often people go to him and he said he sees some people once a week and others he never sees again. I’d definitely see him again if I had the time!

I went back to the hotel after that (which took another hour) and really fancied a cup of tea.

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I did a bit of work and went to the restaurant for dinner. I was working till after 1am and slept really badly.

On Tuesday my alarm went off at 6am and I thought about cancelling the floating yoga class and sleeping in. I felt like I hadn’t slept at all. But I dragged myself out of bed and went anyway. I couldn’t face breakfast in the restaurant again so I ordered room service. I don’t know what I was thinking but I ordered an American breakfast – which was far too much for me to eat. In the end, I didn’t even touch the cereal or the croissants, just the omelette – and the coffee was delicious.

I did some work in the lobby bar, overlooking the lush greenery while my room was being cleaned.

That afternoon, my parents, sister and grandmother all arrived together. A little while later, some cousins and their mum arrived. The relaxing part of my trip was definitely over as everyone had started arriving for my cousin’s wedding. That evening, we all went to Bumbu Bali in Nusa Dua for dinner. I was tired as I’d slept badly the night before, everyone else was jetlagged and hungry. We ordered loads of food – satays, ribs, prawns. It was an early night for everyone.

The next day my sister and I were up early. I’d asked Pak Wayan to pick us up at 9.30am and take us to Seminyak. I wanted to leave early to avoid the traffic – and we were there by 10.15 or so. We went to Sisterfields for breakfast. I ordered a juice and the eggs Benedict with smoked salmon – it was delicious!

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My sister had the brioche French toast and said that was amazing too.

We walked around Seminyak Village and Seminyak Square and to Indigo Kids, where I bought this T-shirt for one of my nephews:

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We then went to the other end of Jalan Laksmana and walked back down to the Seminyak Square end. I picked up a dress, two handbags, two pairs of Havaianas… I think that was it? After walking around Seminyak for a while we went to Galleria Mall, but that was just a waste of time.

We were both peckish on the way home and got stuck in terrible traffic. We stopped at McDonald’s for a quick bite and in the end it took us almost two hours to get back to the hotel. The roundabout at the airport had been closed (no idea why), and the traffic on the toll road was out of control!

That evening a few of my cousins wanted to go out for dinner and suggested a couple of places in Seminyak, but there was no way I was heading back there again. In the end, my sister, cousin and I had dinner at Kwee Zeen (ugh) and then met up with the others in the Lobby Bar – it turned out that they didn’t go out either in the end. I sat with them until about 11pm and then went to my room.

On Thursday, my parents, sister and grandmother were going to Discovery Mall in Kuta while I stayed behind to do some work. That evening there was an ‘early bird’ dinner at Bejana at the Ritz-Carlton. It’s a huge property which has only been open a few months, but it was pretty quiet. On the way to the restaurant, we passed a Perfume Workshop where you could make your own perfume.

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It wasn’t a late night as we knew the next three days would be hectic with the wedding and family, etc.

I love my life.

To read more about Bali, click here.

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Dubai 2015: Week 4

I had to cancel my Sunday morning session with Trevor as I had to be in Sharjah by 10am and I wasn’t sure I’d be back in time. I got to Sharjah, had my blood test and X-ray and was done in about 20 minutes. The traffic coming back to Dubai was pretty bad and I’m glad I’d cancelled the session.

Instead of going straight home, I decided to go to the Dubai Mall and have a look around. I needed to get a birthday present for a friend and I’d seen the perfect book at Kinokuniya – Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck (Charley was Steinbeck’s dog and my friend has a dog called Charlie). On a previous visit to Kinokuniya I’d noticed three Folio Society copies of the book and thought I’d get one. I also wanted a couple of books for myself (naturally). The Folio Society copies were nowhere to be found. I couldn’t believe that three people had bought them and I went to the Information desk to find out if they had any in stock. I gave the man behind the desk the title, the author, the publisher – and he insisted they’d never had that edition in stock. And I insisted that they had at one point. Why was I so sure, he asked me. Because I used to work at that publisher in London, and I worked on that particular book. Anyway, I ended up getting the Penguin Classics edition of the book – it’s nowhere near as impressive as the Folio Society edition, but there you go. I also picked up the new Wally Lamb book (We Are Water) and a book called Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. It was written before Shadow of the Wind but was only translated a couple of years ago. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have bought the second book because I doubt it will be as good as The Shadow of the Wind! While I was browsing I was horrified to see this sign on one of the shelves.

I was so horrified I went to Debenhams and bought a dress to cheer myself up. I was home in time for lunch and spent the rest of the day at home.

I woke up at about 6am on Monday – all I could hear was the wind howling outside. It was dark and looked like rain. It rained most of the day and I hoped that my piano lesson would be cancelled (it wasn’t). Luckily, when I left for my lesson it had stopped raining and only started again after I got back home. I could still see lightning and hear thunder as I got into bed at around midnight.

I had yoga on Tuesday morning and then met up with NP for lunch at Tasha’s in Galleria Mall on Al Wasl Road. NP got there a little before me and managed to snap up the last available table. There were already people waiting when I got there at 1pm. She had the wagyu burger – she said it was better than the one at Jones the Grocer. I had my usual quinoa salad with chicken and a carrot/beetroot/apple/ginger juice. We both had a coffee after that and went our separate ways.

I got home and did a bit of work. I was reading Natalie Goldberg’s The True Secret of Writing and it made me want to start writing again so I decided that my project for the week would be to clear up my desk. (I finished reading the book later that night, and to sum up her ‘true secret’ of writing: Shut up and write.)

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Yes, that is a bottle of vodka. No, I haven’t been drinking it – I inherited it half full. What else is on there? Camera lenses, books, papers, sunscreen, makeup, my old laptop from three years ago which I must get rid of. I haven’t worked at my desk in about two years and I need to start using it again. Where do I work? On my bed. No comments, please.

So I put off clearing up my desk until the evening. And then I spent about four hours sorting out papers, emptying drawers and basically throwing out a lot of sh*t.

On Wednesday morning, my desk looked like this:

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Miles better, but still room for improvement! After my session with Trevor that morning, I had to get ready in a rush to go back to Sharjah to finish off the rest of the visa renewal process. I was in the visa application centre this time. My dad had arranged for someone to take me through the procedure as I had no idea what to do or what queue to stand in. I had to wait in line at the front desk while they stamped all my forms, then I had to queue to pay for my renewal, then I had to queue to submit my passport, then finally I had to submit the rest of the forms. I sat in the chair opposite a local woman. She looked at me and decided she’d rather continue chatting to the male colleague on her right. For about ten minutes. Eventually, she decided she’d better get on with her job and looked through my forms. She told me one form was missing, so the guy I was with rushed off to get it while I waited there, and this ‘official’ folded her arms on her desk and just put her head down. Erm – that’s professional. The guy came back with the form, I filled it in, signed it, she woke up and that was it.

I had a piano lesson on Wednesday afternoon – we spent the entire hour working on the Debussy Arabesque. I spent a few more hours clearing up my desk that day. I even came across my first plane ticket which my mum had saved.

By Thursday morning, my desk looked like this:

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Yes, there was still crap under the desk and that’s a work in progress. But – I’ve been feeling very positive and energised since clearing it up.

On Thursday night, I went to my friend’s Gatsby-themed birthday party at his house (I wore my new dress and he loved Travels with Charley). It was a nice evening – and not as many people as I thought there would be. I had just two glasses of red wine (I hadn’t had any alcohol since my friends left after that mad week they were here). I hadn’t really missed it and even started with a mocktail, but because we were outdoors and it was quite chilly I thought the red wine would warm me up. I got home at about 2.30 and went to bed.

I worked all day on Friday and most of Saturday. I had a sudden influx of work on Thursday and my only option was to work all weekend.

On Saturday evening a friend and I went to visit some friends who’d had a baby just before Christmas. We were there for about an hour and then headed home. And I went back to work for a few more hours! I love being busy at work, but I’d been swamped on Friday and Saturday. According to one of my clients, I should expect it to be like that for the next couple of weeks. Oh well, more work equals more money!

I love my life.

For more updates, click here.

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